I am broadly interested in the link between what we see and how we conceptualize it. In particular, I study how language encodes the structure of scenes and situations, and what this can tell us about the mental processes (perceptual or otherwise) that extract such information.

I am thrilled to announce that as of August 2022, I am a me University of Delaware as an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics & Cognitive Science. More information (and a fancy new website!) coming soon!

Prior to joining UD, I was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Departments of Cognitive Science and Psychological & Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, where I work with my advisors Mick Bonner, Chaz Firestone, and Barbara Landau, on visual relations (such as the force-dynamic relations "in" and "on"). I use psychophysical, computational modeling, and fMRI techniques to identify how our perceptual and cognitive systems extract these relations from scenes. (Did you know that a phone in a basket looks remarkably similar to a knife in a cup?).

Before Hopkins, I was at the University of Pennsylvania, where I got my PhD in Psychology with John Trueswell and Russell Epstein. My main focus as a graduate student was how we perceive and recognize events, i.e. what is happening (who did what to whom).

My recent collaborators include Julian De Freitas (Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School) and Brent Strickland (CNRS Researcher, Ecole Normal Superieure / Institut Jean Nicod).

When not doing science, I enjoy making (absurdly) large quantities of homemade soup and beer, and performing in an annual Purim show as the beloved Vashti.



Journal Articles and Preprints

Refereed Conference Proceedings

17.  Hafri, A., Landau, B., Bonner, M.F., & Firestone, C. (under review). A phone in a basket looks like a knife in a cup: The perception of abstract relations. [https://psyarxiv.com/jx4yg]

16.  De Freitas, J.* & Hafri, A.* (under review). Moral thin-slicing. [https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4170252* co-first authors

15.  Hafri, A., Wadhwa, S., Bonner, M.F. (in press). Perceived distance alters memory for scene boundaries. Psychological Science. [https://psyarxiv.com/hy3qs]

14.  Hafri, A., Gleitman, L.R., Landau, B., & Trueswell., J.C. (2022). Where word and world meet: Language and vision share an abstract representation of symmetry.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. [pdf]

13.  Lin, F., Hafri, A., & Bonner, M.F. (2022). Scene memories are biased toward high-probability views. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance. [pdf]

12.   Hafri, A.*, Boger, T.*, & Firestone, C. (2022). Melting ice with your mind: Representational momentum for physical states. Psychological Science, 33(5), 725-735. [pdf* co-first authors

11.  Hafri, A., & Firestone, C. (2021). The perception of relations. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 25, 475–492. [pdf] [cover]

10.  Caplan, S., Hafri, A., Trueswell, J.C. (2021). Now you hear me, later you don’t: The immediacy of linguistic computation and the representation of speech. Psychological Science, 32(3), 410-423. [pdf]

9.   Hafri, A., Trueswell, J.C., & Strickland, B. (2018). Encoding of event roles from visual scenes is rapid, spontaneous, and interacts with higher-level visual processing. Cognition, 175, 336-52. [pdf]

8.   Hafri, A., Trueswell, J.C., & Epstein, R.A. (2017). Neural representations of observed actions generalize across static and dynamic visual input. The Journal of Neuroscience, 37(11), 3056-3071. [pdf]

7.    Hafri., A., Papafragou, A., & Trueswell, J.C. (2013). Getting the gist of events: Recognition of two-participant actions from brief displays. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142(3), 880-905. [pdf]

6.   Trueswell, J.C., Medina, T.N., Hafri, A., & Gleitman, L.R. (2013). Propose but verify: Fast mapping meets cross-situational word learning. Cognitive Psychology, 66(1), 126-156. [pdf]

5.   Hafri, A., Gleitman, L.R., Landau, B., & Trueswell., J.C. (2021). When word and world meet: Intuitive correspondence between visual and linguistic symmetry. In Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Vienna, Austria. [pdf]

4.   Caplan, S., Hafri, A., Trueswell, J.C. (2019). Speech processing does not involve acoustic maintenance. In Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Montreal, Canada.

3.   Wehry, J., Hafri, A., Trueswell, J.C. (2019). The end’s in plain sight: Implicit association of visual and conceptual boundedness. In Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Montreal, Canada.

2.   Hafri, A., Trueswell, J. C., & Strickland, B. (2016). Extraction of event roles from visual scenes is rapid, automatic, and interacts with higher-level visual processing. In Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Philadelphia, PA.

1.   Trueswell, J.C., Kaufman, D., Hafri, A., & Lidz, J. (2012). Development of parsing abilities interacts with grammar learning: Evidence from Tagalog and Kannada. In Proceedings of the 36th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press. [pdf]

2.   Guan, C.*, Schwitzgebel, D.*, Firestone, C., & Hafri, A. (in prep). Visual number estimation is sensitive to the combinability of object-parts.     *co-first authors

1.  Hafri, A., Trueswell, J.C., Bonner, M.F., & Epstein, R.A. (in prep). A model of semantic structure predicts cortical responses to verbs in naturalistic language.

Manuscripts in Preparation



Alon Hafri

Departments of Linguistics & Cognitive Science

University of Delaware

125 E Main Street

Newark, DE 19716